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VIDEO: FAITH: Practicing the marks of the true Christian

Rev. Brad McKenzie

The need for all of us to be reconciled in our relationships has never been more important.  Although there is great benefit to our culture becoming honest about sins of the past, there must be a point where the revealing can lead to restoration.  Unfortunately, the tone of politics, the national media, Hollywood, and a growing number of dissatisfied citizens is one of discord, disunity, and disdain.  It seems obviously the quest to point out wrongs has really done little to make situations of the past right and work for a more equitable and redemptive future.  The greatest issue however is, how will each of us react or respond to the people who wrong us and the wrongs they dole out on us.

‘Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.’  Romans 12:14-21

This teaching from the Apostle Paul is defined as “Marks of the True Christian!”  What is so amazing about these marks is how they are not something Paul made up, but really just a summation of the teachings and life of Jesus.  Something to point out is the phrase, “true” Christian, as to imply there are some who say they believe in Jesus, yet live life differently from the example of Jesus.  I attest many in our churches today may think they are Christians because they go to church or even do good works of service, but inwardly they are no different than those who either do not know Christ or refuse to accept His words of truth.

This post today is specifically written to the people who are part of the family of Christ in our congregations around town.  The reason I bring this to you is I am convinced if we in the church continue to fail at practicing the marks of the true Christian, the true follower of Christ, our world will continue to spiral into the chaos of resentment, violence, and anarchy.  How can we expect the world to settle their differences if we in the church are not the consistent and righteous example of what life is to be in the shadow of the cross and empty tomb?

‘ Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.’  James 1:19-27

I believe this: “the church of Jesus Christ, every church of Jesus Christ, and those who call themselves followers of Christ, must be a place and a people who practice the marks of the true Christian.  We must forgive and be reconciled.  It is simple, yet when we fail to do so makes lasting problems and destruction.

I leave you with the words of Jesus:  ‘When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ John 13:31-35

You are Valued and Loved, Pastor Brad

Rev. Brad McKenzie is Lead Pastor at Orange First Church of the Nazarene, 3810 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Orange.